DEAR ABBY: My brother committed suicide last November. This tragic loss has brought out emotions that I never knew I had.

My family is struggling to find answers to the questions that surface after a loved one chooses a permanent solution to a temporary problem.I started attending Survivors of Suicide meetings, which have helped a great deal. I know the painful feelings that a survivor of suicide experiences, and I wrote the "1-2-3's of Survival" to help those who are faced with such a trauma. - COPING IN FRESNO, CALIF.

DEAR COPING: Please accept my sympathy on the tragic loss of your brother. It is reassuring to know that you and your family have gained a measure of comfort and perspective through the support of other survivors of suicide.

I am printing your "1-2-3's of Survival" in the hope that it will help others who have experienced feelings of helplessness and grief after losing a loved one to suicide:

1. Accept what we cannot change.

2. Believe in a higher power.

3. Seek support when the need arises.

4. Do not repress your feelings.

5. Express your feelings to someone you trust.

6. Forgive your loved one.

7. Allow yourself time to grieve.

8. Help your family members through their grief.

9. Live in the present, and put the past behind you.

10. Keep those special memories of your loved one close to your heart.

11. Make time for yourself.

12. Pick up the pieces of your life and slowly put them back together.

13. Quit blaming yourself.

14. Take good care of your health; focus on survival and hope for the future.

15. Dwell on the positive, and your zest for life will return.

For those families who wish to find a nearby chapter of Survivors of Suicide, send a stamped (29 cents), self-addressed, business-sized envelope to: Survivors of Suicide, 3251 N. 78th St., Milwaukee, WI 53222, Attention: Sharry Schaeffer.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 43-year-old divorced male. (No children, fortunately.) I would like to propose marriage to a very lovely 31-year-old woman. My question: Should I buy a diamond ring and surprise her with it? Or should I propose first, and let her pick out her own ring? She has never been married. - H.W. (MY REAL INITIALS)

DEAR H.W.: Don't surprise her. Propose first. And if she accepts, invite her to go with you to pick out the ring.

1991 Universal Press Syndicate